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A Condensed History of Osteopathic Medicine: Perspective from a Chicago Osteopathic Physician

By July 9, 2019July 23rd, 2019Osteopathic Medicine

While medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, osteopathic medicine, in particular, is a relatively new discipline. Not even 150 years old, this form of medicine has made a seismic impact in just a short amount of time.

Interested in learning about the history of osteopathic medicine? Then read below! This is the article for you.

The Origins

The origins of osteopathic medicine go back to Kansas in the mid 19th century. During this time, a physician named Andrew Taylor Still developed a medical ideology on the belief that the human body could heal itself.

Dr. Still understood the importance of some medicines, but he preferred to use them as a last resort as opposed to a primary cure. Instead, Still preached the gospel of preventive health, urging his patients to lead healthy lives as a means of avoiding disease altogether.

At the same time, Still was developing a variety of non-medicinal treatments. After moving to Kirksville, Missouri and establishing a new practice, he began utilizing osteopathic manipulation, a type of treatment that involves the manipulation of muscles, joints, and tissues. This treatment proved effective for many patients, and soon, people were coming from all over the United States to utilize Still’s services.

The Early Days

In 1892, osteopathic medicine was legitimized when Still opened the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville. The school began with a student body of just 18, consisting of both men and women from all over the United States and Canada. However, within just 5 years, enrollment would grow close to 300.

Now, this isn’t to say that osteopathic medicine took off like wildfire. In most states, osteopathic physicians weren’t legally allowed to be licensed for decades. In fact, the last state to allow licensure for osteopathic physicians was Nebraska in 1989.

To put it simply, there was a lot to overcome. Osteopathic medicine received pushback not only from the government, but from the medical community as well.

20th Century Osteopathic Medicine

At the turn of the 20th century, osteopathic medicine got a big backing when iconic writer Mark Twain spoke of its efficacy in treating both he and his daughter. Not only did Twain profess that osteopathic techniques cured his bronchitis, but that it lessened the severity of his daughter’s epilepsy. Twain even backed the medicine publicly, speaking in favor of its licensing to the New York State Assembly.

Slowly but surely, osteopathic medicine became an accepted form of medicine. Not only were osteopathic physicians becoming licensed in numerous states throughout the country, but, starting in 1966, they were also allowed to serve as military doctors.

Now, this isn’t to say that all the challenges had been eliminated. In fact, at one point, California tried to de-license osteopathic physicians after they had already become legally licensed. Fortunately, these efforts would prove unsuccessful, and osteopathic medicine would continue to grow throughout the century.

Osteopathic Medicine in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, osteopathic medicine is widely accepted as a legitimate form of medicine. In fact, many individuals utilize osteopathic physicians as their primary care doctors.

Osteopathic physicians offer a range of services, including but not limited to osteopathic manipulation, acupuncture, pediatric care, and nutrition services. If you’re looking to take control of your health, there’s arguably no better physician to see than one who practices osteopathic medicine.

Hoping to See an Osteopathic Physician in Chicago, IL?

Looking to take advantage of the benefits of osteopathic medicine? In need of an osteopathic physician in Chicago, Illinois? If so, the Feely Center for Optimal Health can help you.

Featuring a team of highly skilled osteopathic physicians, we’ve helped countless Chicago area residents to lead healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives. We would be happy to help you do the same.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Dr. Richard Feely

Author Dr. Richard Feely

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